Saudi Oil Large Aramco Experiences 44% Revenue Droop In 2020 Amid Coronavirus Pandemic : NPR

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Amin Nasser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco, speaks during the fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative conference on January 27 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Fayez Nureldine / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption

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Fayez Nureldine / AFP via Getty Images

Amin Nasser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco, speaks during the fourth edition of the Future Investment Initiative conference on January 27 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Fayez Nureldine / AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s state-backed oil giant Aramco posted a 44% decline in profits last year as coronavirus pandemic restrictions lowered fuel demand around the world.

Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, posted profits of $ 49 billion in 2020, up from $ 88.2 billion a year earlier. Chairman Amin Nasser described the last year as “one of the most challenging years in history”.

Despite the decline, Aramco announced it would distribute annual dividends of $ 75 billion to shareholders. The company began publicly selling shares in December 2019, but the Saudi government owns more than 98% of them, the Associated Press reports.

Like its competitors, Aramco has faced historic headwinds in the oil markets caused by the coronavirus. Countries have limited travel and work opportunities to face the coronavirus pandemic and drive oil prices soar. At one point last year, oil prices fell below zero for the first time in history. The US energy company Exxon Mobil Corp. had its worst year in 2020, reported CNN Business.

Aramco’s earnings report came from attacks on its facilities, including a drone strike on Friday, alleged by the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group in Yemen. The company said the attacks had no business impact, despite major attacks in 2019 affecting production and rocking oil markets.

Aramco’s 2020 numbers were slightly below analyst expectations, but still represent one of the highest earnings of any company, according to CNBC.

However, Aramco’s CEO said he saw encouraging signs for the future.

“We are seeing a pickup in demand in Asia and positive signs in other countries as well.”
Said Nasser in a statement. “We remain confident that we will emerge in a position of strength on the other side of this pandemic.”